Dark communities

Community, so often a by-word for all things shared, collaborative and benevolent, will have its dark side explored at the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale.

What happens when communities nurture the darker sides of life, society and design? Asks design studio, think tank and exhibitors at the event, Aberrant Architecture, which has created the Dark Communities installation for the event.

Occupying a scale Korean tower block, constructed for the exhibition, Aberrant Architecture has designed seven pieces challenging or explaining the processes of dark community.

Dark Communities
Dark Communities

One piece Going for Gold is a ‘promotional video’ pitched to western countries, based on the Asian financial crisis of 1997 when South Koreans donated gold jewelry to the state to be melted down. It raised £2.2bn.

Aberrant Architecture co-founder and director Kevin Haley says that on the understanding that it’s ‘every man for himself’ in the west, the promo proposes families compete against each other in a game show, before the winners ‘get to ransack the other person’s house’ giving any gold to the state, ‘but maybe keeping a TV.’

Pillow Talk explores the phenomenon of Wild Goose Daddys  – men who stay in South Korea raising money for their wives and children, sent abroad for a better life. 

Bird Daddies, who live in office-hotel hybrids, or ‘officetels’ are reported to be so obsessed by characters in Japanese anime cartoons, that they develop imaginary relationships with them, and have their images printed on pillow cases – ‘for emotional, not sexual gratification’ says Haley.

Using ‘dysfunctional appliances,’ viewers will see how a plug-in light for the pillow, glows brighter if the Bird Daddy tells the pillow jokes, or plays bad music if it becomes neglected.

Physical products have been worked up too, including playing cards, for The Answan Worst Case Scenario Hwatu Card Game.

A response to research that Philippine migrant workers in South Korea cannot express phrases like ‘Please don’t punch me, I’m human too,’ in translated phrase books, Aberrant Architecture has created the cards as ‘a survival game for migrant workers – to help them cope,’ says  Haley.

2011 Gwangju Design Biennale will take place across several locations in the Buk-Gu district South Korea from 2 September – 23 October

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